Barack Obama gave a speech on energy and gas prices to an audience of college students today, at Prince George’s Community College. He chose his audience carefully; the kids knew nothing about energy, and received him enthusiastically. But anyone even slightly knowledgeable about energy policy would have recognized Obama’s speech for what it was: one misrepresentation after another.
Let’s start, however, with an even more basic point: energy is one of a number of areas where reality has bitten President Obama in the hindquarters. He and his administration (most notably Energy Secretary Steven Chu) came into office determined to suppress oil and gas production in order to raise prices, and to substitute politically favored forms of energy for petroleum. That strategy bombed, as the American people predictably rebelled against a doubling in gas prices and other energy costs. So now, to hear him tell it, Obama is a disciple of Sarah Palin:
So that’s point number one. If you start hearing this “drill, baby, drill; drill, drill, drill” — if you start hearing that again, just remember you’ve got the facts — we’re doing that.
As we have explained more than once, Obama’s claim is false. But the fact that he has to make it shows the utter failure of his administration’s energy strategy.
Next Obama went on to purvey his favorite falsehood: the absurd claim that the United States has only 2% of the world’s oil “reserves” and therefore cannot come close to meeting our energy needs by drilling for more oil and gas:
Here’s the second problem with what some of these politicians are talking about. There’s a problem with a strategy that only relies on drilling and that is, America uses more than 20 percent of the world’s oil. If we drilled every square inch of this country — so we went to your house and we went to the National Mall and we put up those rigs everywhere — we’d still have only 2 percent of the world’s known oil reserves.
We will not fully be in control of our energy future if our strategy is only to drill for the 2 percent but we still have to buy the 20 percent.
This is a flat-out lie, for the reasons we have explained a number of times. Obama’s nose has gotten so long on this one that even the liberal press is beginning to take offense. Thus, the Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler explained that Obama’s 2% claim is a “non sequitur”:
[I]n the context of higher gas prices — which is how the president often uses these figures now — it just is not logical to compare consumption to “proven oil reserves.” This is a lowball figure that does not begin to describe the oil known to be within the U.S. borders.
What Kessler says is correct, but he omits one key fact: in the United States, unlike other countries, “reserves” is a term of art governed by securities law, and petroleum that is not legally accessible under current laws and regulations does not count toward our “reserves.” Obama’s reasoning is therefore circular; we would increase our “reserves” overnight by opening up ANWR, for example, to exploration and production. See also this IBD editorial, “The Myth of Scarce Oil.”
Have we ever had a president as dishonest as Barack Obama? It is hard to think who that might be.
We have noted several times over the years that Obama’s knowledge of history is below average. It is no surprise, then, that when he tried to insult Republicans who oppose payoffs to his cronies in the “green energy” sector as “flat earthers,” he committed one howler after another. Obama said:
We’ve heard this kind of thinking before. Let me tell you something. If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail — (laughter) — they must have been founding members of the Flat Earth Society. (Laughter.) They would not have believed that the world was round. (Applause.) We’ve heard these folks in the past. They probably would have agreed with one of the pioneers of the radio who said, “Television won’t last. It’s a flash in the pan.” (Laughter.) One of Henry Ford’s advisors was quoted as saying, “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a fad.” (Laughter.)
There have always been folks like that. There always have been folks who are the naysayers and don’t believe in the future, and don’t believe in trying to do things differently. One of my predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone, “It’s a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?” (Laughter.) That’s why he’s not on Mt. Rushmore — (laughter and applause) — because he’s looking backwards. He’s not looking forwards. (Applause.)
Many have already pointed out that Obama’s Rutherford Hayes anecdote is false; my guess is that every one of his purported historical parallels is apocryphal. It worth adding, however, that Obama’s suggestion that those who were skeptical of Columbus’s voyages believed the world was flat is another example of his historical illiteracy. In fact, it was well known by educated people in the 15th century that the world was round. Not only that, they knew that the circumference of the Earth was around 25,000 miles; this had been calculated by the ancient Greeks, using triangulation. So when Columbus tried to raise money for a voyage in which he proposed to reach the East by sailing West, he had trouble because everyone knew that going West was not only an unknown route, but was the long way around the globe. But we are long past expecting Barack Obama to possess even the most elementary knowledge of history.